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Need help getting internet? Millions of Americans can now apply for $50 off their bills

The temporary benefit aims to lower the cost of broadband services for eligible households during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, our world has become even more digital. Living, working, and going to school from home, Americans rely on the internet to connect us to the outside world. 

But, not everyone has the same online access. So, the FCC is stepping in to help.

Eligible Americans can now apply for an up to $50 monthly discount on internet services. Qualifying households on Tribal lands can receive up to $75 a month.

The program also provides an up to $100 discount per household toward a one-time purchase of a computer, laptop, or tablet if the household contributes more than $10 and less than $50 toward the purchase through a participating broadband provider.  

The benefits are offered through the FCC's Emergency Broadband Benefit program, which is part of the government's $900 billion December pandemic relief package.

Who is eligible?

A household is eligible if one member meets at least one of the following criteria:

  • Has an income at or below 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines.
  • Participates in assistance programs such as SNAP, Medicaid, or Lifeline.
  • A child who receives free or reduced-price school lunch or breakfast.
  • Experienced a substantial loss of income since Feb. 29, 2020, or has a total household income below $99,000 for single filers and $198,000 for joint filers in 2020.
  • Received a Federal Pell Grant in the current award year.
  • Meets the eligibility criteria for a participating provider’s existing low-income or COVID-19 program.

See the full list of eligibility requirements here.

How to apply

Eligible households can apply:

  • Directly through their participating service provider.
  • Online at GetEmergencyBroadband.org 
  • By calling 833-511-0311 for a mail-in application, and returning it along with copies of documents showing proof of eligibility to:
    Emergency Broadband Support Center
    P.O. Box 7081
    London, KY 40742

It's unclear how long the money will last but it's expected to be several months. Tens of millions of people are eligible, although the Federal Communications Commission, which is administering the program, did not specify a number. 

You can get a discount even if you owe your phone or cable company money. More than 800 cellphone and home-internet companies are participating, including AT&T, Charter, Comcast, T-Mobile and Verizon. 

The discount could apply to a household's whole bill, or you can use it to trade up to a more expensive offering and your bill is partly covered.

Although temporary, the Emergency Broadband Benefit is a more robust program to help people afford internet than Lifeline, the FCC's other affordability program, which subtracts only $9.25 a month from phone or internet bills. A household can use both the Lifeline and EBB programs.

RELATED: Sign-ups for $50 off monthly internet because of pandemic begin Wednesday

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